New Hampshire Right to Life’s political action committee showcased signers of its 2014 “Affirmation Statement” Thursday evening in Manchester, with guest speaker Rebecca Kiessling of Save the 1. (See coverage of a May 2013 interview with Kiessling and Darlene Pawlik here.) The deck at Murphy’s Taproom was the setting for a few speeches and a lot of mingling with New Hampshire candidates for offices ranging from state representative to U.S. Senate.
Kiessling, conceived in rape, takes “exceptions” legislation personally. When a law restricting abortion has an exception for pregnancies resulting from rape, “I’m that exception.” She campaigns nationwide for legislation respecting the lives of all preborn children. She urged candidates to keep two things in mind when faced with pressure to endorse exceptions. “First, don’t ever say [pregnancy from rape] is rare. It’s not. Twenty-seven thousand [children are] born every year as a result of rape. Don’t diminish, just defend. Number two, talk about our sense of justice in America. It is extreme to punish an innocent person for someone else’s crime, and we don’t do that. It’s un-American.”
Introduced by PAC chairman Darlene Pawlik as “the only pro-life gubernatorial candidate,” Andrew Hemingway began his remarks by reflecting on the New Hampshire state motto. “I am running for governor because I believe our state motto, Live Free or Die, is more than just a catchy marketing phrase. It’s a statement of principle. The first of our rights is the right to life.” Referring to the GOP, “As a party, I do not believe we should be backing away from this issue. This is a fundamental right.” He thanked his listeners before giving them a challenge. “I have traveled around the state of New Hampshire, and there is a re-awakening to the issue of life. I’m excited about it. Hopefully, all of us tonight will be more inspired, and we’ll meet candidates who will carry the torch. We’ll see a life-voters turnout in September. That’s what we need. And I don’t know how to express this enough: there is a tremendous amount of responsibility that comes with the knowledge of these types of issues. You need to tell every single person voting in September how important this issue is. Candidates can only do so much. It’s you. We need you. Talk, talk, talk to as many people as you can.”
Former U.S. Senator Bob Smith, running to regain his seat, got a warm reception from the crowd in tribute to his eighteen years as a pro-life leader in Washington. He took the mic and cast a sly glance toward WMUR-TV’s political reporter, James Pindell, who arrived just after Kiessling had finished speaking. Smith got a round of applause for urging Pindell to feature Kiessling and her story in his report on the event. Then, he turned to his own candidacy. “It’s been the highest honor and privilege of my entire political life, and indeed almost of my whole life, to stand on the Senate floor on numerous occasions, and before that the House floor, and stand up for life. The ultimate freedom, the ultimate liberty, is the right to be born. I just want to be a little bit personal here. We speak about this issue in general terms. ‘A woman’s right to choose.’ Or ‘a fetus.’ It’s very impersonal. But let me tell you something: it’s pretty damn personal when you get to know what happens. I’ve cried with women who have had abortions, I’ve cried over the babies who have died from abortions, and I’ve cried with people who’ve performed them and regretted them.” He said this election “is not about the big money. It’s really not. It’s about issues like this one. This is what matters. When the history books are written, you are the heroes. We [candidates] have the easy part. It’s you who are behind us that make us do what we do, because we believe. We know you believe. We know you want us to do the right thing and stop this atrocity. I spent eighteen years trying to stop it, and if God lets me, I’ll spend the next eighteen years and I WILL stop it.”
Also attending were candidates for state Senate and House who have signed NHRTL-PAC’s Affirmation Statement. The PAC uses the Statement as the first step in an endorsement process. The names of endorsed candidates will go online Monday, August 5 at nhrtlpac.org and will be updated throughout the campaign season.